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|How to better manage HBAs|
A few seconds later, the computer returns a response and the administrator relaxes. The server's host bus adapter (HBA) has discovered the newly assigned LUNs without another midnight reboot.
After years of managing HBAs with a hope and a prayer, the tasks of installing, configuring and managing HBAs are finally getting easier. And just in time. With storage area networks (SANs) moving out of Fortune 500 companies and into small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the traditional hassles long associated with HBAs won't fly in these smaller shops. By mimicking the same principles that drove the widespread adoption of IP network cards, HBA vendors are working hard to help HBAs shed their image of being hard to configure and manage.
Inaccessible server-based management tools are an annoyance of the past. New HBAs built upon industry standards such as the Fabric Device Management Interface (FDMI), the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) and the Storage Networking Industry Association's (SNIA) HBA API, come with better driver software and point-and-click install tools. Management software such as Emulex Corp.'s AutoPilot and LSI Logic Corp.'s MyStorage--along with light versions of Applied Micro Circuits Corporation (AMCC) EZ Fibre and QLogic Corp.'s SANsurfer--go a long way in making HBAs simpler to install, as well as easier to configure and manage. Improved HBA drivers for operating systems permit administrators to discover and configure new LUNs without reboots.
HBAs for SMBs
Driving the trend of easier HBA management has been the growth of SANs in SMBs. These storage environments require lower costs, minimal setup time and relatively simple maintenance because they lack the staff to specialize in the intricacies of SAN management. Depending on which vendor's HBA gets deployed, SMBs can expect the following benefits:
- Lower HBA prices
- HBA drivers that provide host-based mapping, failover and load balancing
- Wizard-based configurations
- Central management console for driver and firmware upgrades
- Standards compliance
- Ability to integrate with third-party SRM tools
- Onboard memory
- Operating system support
- Protocol support
- I/Os per second (IOPS)
- Transactions per second (TPS)
- Interoperability testing
Emulex will offer new management software, AutoPilot, to complement its new LP101s that will function as an installation wizard, allowing for the quick setup and configuration of these new HBAs. Users needing failover and dynamic load balancing capabilities will still need to look to Emulex's MultiPulse software that works with their premium HBAs, supporting up to four of them.
|HBAs Head to head|
This was first published in June 2004